Sunday, September 6, 2015

DIY: make a Free Motion Quilting Practice "Machine"

So, here is the FMQ practice machine. It's made up of a 1" diameter PVC pipe about 24 inches long, two right angles that go down to the feet and then two end caps. I didn't use any glue and got the wrong size end caps so I ended up taping them on instead of pushing them over the ends of the T-connectors. There is a very short piece of PVC between the right angle and the T-connector. Measure how tall you want your device and cut the size according to that height.

The pen holder is two hose clamps and a hose connector. Put the larger hose clamp around the horizontal pipe, and the smaller should be inside the larger as in the picture below. The hose connector then gets clamped inside the smaller hose clamp and you push the marker inside. I used a rubber band around the marker so I could get it inside but it would still be snug. Because the rubber band snugs the marker, but doesn't make it immobile I can adjust it up or down to just meet the surface I'm writing on. I tried a piece of paper, but it's not smooth enough. I had an extra 3-ring binder hanging around and the front of it with the extra plastic where you can slip in a piece of paper for the cover is perfect. I could print up designs and put them in there to practice on.

Here is a close-up of the pen holder in the center of the bar.
The hose clamps cost about $1.50 each and the gray connector was about $.70.
Below are pictures of the parts I used, except for the PVC pipe. The diameter you get determines the size of everything else. Hope this was clear. If it wasn't and you have questions, just comment and I'll try to answer them.


Hose clamps: choose sizes that will fit around
your horizontal pipe and the hose connector for the pen.

Hose connector. Make sure the interior
 is large enough for you marker.

Here is what the 90 degree piece looks like. It's used
to connect the long horizontal  bar to the legs.
End cap for the base. This makes'
the foot of the device a bit longer so more stable (I think.)
T-connector for the base

I've been sewing, just not quilts

I have been sitting at my sewing machine and doing stuff, just not piecing or quilting. Our church's feast day is coming up and my husband is the director of religious education. His signature clothing is a Hawaiian shirt (I counted last week and he has about 30 I've made.)

We decided it would be fun if I made him a shirt and in a different colorway made one for our pastor. He is rather conservative in his dress, so we found a Hawaiian print in black, white and grey with just a bit of blue that also came in bright blue.
My husband has an intern, and I offered to make her a blouse, she accepted. We also have an associate priest, so I also am making her a shirt in the same blue fabric. I've got the two women's shirts almost done. One just needs buttons and button holes. The other needs some alterations and buttons and button holes and it will be done. I've adjusted the pastor's shirt so it will have a neckband he can put his collar on. I was also going to do something about the sleeves and armholes to make them closer fitting, but changed my mind. This is supposed to be a casual clergy shirt :-).

I have also been working on my free motion quilting skills. Mostly watching videos and collecting various patterns folks use. While I searching the net I found a very cool device designed for practicing FMQ on a sit down machine. Unfortunately it is no longer for sale, but it looked simple enough to make. So I did. Just some PVE, tape and pipe clamps. A rubber band, dry erase marker and the white cover of a notebook that I can slip a printed page into.

I made a short video showing how I use it. You can check it out. I'll do another post to show how I made it later today or tomorrow.

I'm linking to Judy's blog. Go see what others are doing.


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Another Finish

This one was so much faster than the last. It's quite a bit smaller and the quilting is much plainer. I just did a simple jigsaw puzzle design and then striped multicolored fabric for the binding. You can see a close up of the quilting below. Simple lines from top to bottom then side to side.

Feels good to have one less top hanging around.

Monday, August 17, 2015

More quilting Going On

After the dense quilting on the last quilt that took FOREVER, I decided to do something easy and fast for the next quilt. I was trying to figure out something clever that would fit in the hourglass shapes (tumbler blocks stacked on each other) and then came across the puzzle block quilting pattern. I didn't draw any lines so it's not perfect, but it works for me on this quilt. I just sewed all the lines the length of the quilt, and now I'm working on the crosswise lines. Simple but effective.

The backing is from Ikea; fabric I bought a couple of years ago at least. I'm actually almost done and I started yesterday. YAY.

I finished the top 4 1/2 years ago, yikes. I had no idea it had been that long. It's a pattern I downloaded (free at the time) from Elizabeth Hartman called New Wave. It can be purchased from her website now. If you're interested you can find it here.

I have no specific recipient in mind, but there are always babies, right?

I'm linking up to Blossom Heart Quilts and Freemotion by the River, go check them out.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Holy Macaroli! It's done (well almost)

It is done (except for the binding, but that will be done a bit later today). I had to get the picture while it was still light enough outside and not wet. Looks like it is going to rain in a bit. 

I ended up quilting it much more densely than I thought I would, but I like the way it looks. The border is very simply quilted, just straight lines that are right angles to each other.

Here is a close-up of the quilting of the swirly quilting and the border with the corner decoration. I don't know what color I'm going to use for the binding but I'll figure it out.

I really like it and am proud of the work I did. This is the first quilt I finished on my Bailey's Home Quilter and though the tension is a bit fiddly I know that once I have worked with it enough I'll know how to set the tension so I don't get those stinking skipped stitches.

I've linked to Judy's blog. Check out more blogs there.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

How to...Meander in a Block

I thought I'd share how I am figuring out what to do to fill in the green space on the edges of the quilt. I got a book by Suzanne Earley that's no longer in print, called Meandering Magic (I found it available as an ebook if you're interested). Her premise is that you draw a large meander line, then fill in shapes around it (the magic) to quilt the whole quilt. I've used it before on whole quilts and loved it, here I did it in the blocks I was filling in. I've darkened the line I first sewed on this block so you can see what I did.
Here is the finished quilting on the same block. I think if you look closely you can see where the original line was, but not too easily. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Almost Done

I went back to work on the 30th, so the whole schedule has changed, but I have been quilting, just in shorter bursts.
I've been doing a lot of this.

...on this.

I only have a few more sections of the light green border to quilt and I'll be done. Then I have to figure out what I'm going to do with the borders, but I don't think that will be as closely quilted. I don't know what I was thinking when I started this part, but each section is about 12 by 12 for the largest and it takes me about 30 minutes to quilt it. 

The good news is I finally figured out the skipped stitches problem...tension and I'm getting lots of quilting practice!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Guest Bed Update

We have a guest room that is seldom used for guests, but we want to be sure it is available when we have folks over. The room has had my stationary bike in it, but there just isn't much room, and the linens get dirty from the cat sleeping on it and the space just can't be used for anything else.
So, we decided a Murphy bed was the answer. It was a bit more difficult than we anticipated to put it together, but not really that hard. We bought a Next Bed frame and it only took about a week to arrive. 

Having the bed hang out and just looking at the bottom isn't too fun, so we are going to put bookcases between the bed and the room. You can see there is a small alcove that holds the bed, so we'll put bookcases on a platform with wheels and move it out of the way toward the right in this picture and we'll have more storage, and cover up the bed when it is not in use. 

It will just look like bookcases, and we'll roll them out of the way. I have more room now, and that feels good.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Yay! I Figured it Out

I was finally able to get the Bailey's skipped stitches problem (mostly) figured out. I played with the tension some more and got it working, at least for this quilt. I used a simple free motion pattern in each color block, just back and forth with rounded ends.
Like this. This is the back of the quilt, and I added some of the leftover blocks to the back to make it wider and to add a bit of interest. The back and the front go together OK, nothing spectacular, but the quilt is sandwiched AND QUILTED! YAY.

I was able to finally get it working because I re-read this blog post and loosened the top tension. I also increased the tension in the bobbin and the top tension before I played some more. The weird thing is that even though the top tension was loosened quite a bit, the stitches are still mostly balanced. Who knew.

Just some binding and a label and it's ready to go, and the baby isn't even due until November. I don't know what to think about that :-)

I've linked up to Lee, at Freshly Pieced.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Quilting Problems and Other Stuff

I am trying to quilt with the new Bailey's and the bobbin thread kept breaking. I finally figured out that I had threaded it incorrectly. After I fixed that I played around with the tension while sewing through cotton fabric. Got that right, but now, when I try to quilt it keeps breaking. The quilt I am working on is backed with Minkee (or a Minkee knock-off) and that may be the problem. I've been researching online and it seems that for some reason quilting machines are much more touchy about fabric/thread/needle combinations. My Bernina will happily work with just about any combination so I guess I'm spoiled. I'll work more on it tomorrow, and if I can't quilt this one on the Bailey's I'll just finish it on the Bernina. I just called Bailey's and have changed to a quilt sandwich instead of just fabric. It works fine, so the problem is the Minkee....drat.

I've been gone since the 25th. I went camping with some of my family in California. It was wonderful to see everyone, but a little ironic that I drove 17 hours so I could spend time in the mountains: driving from the Rockies, across the desert to the Sierras. Spending time with family was worth it though. Two of my brothers and my sisters were there with their spouses. My two brother's kids were all there with their kids, and my sister's son came for a few days. We had some in-laws there as well, so altogether about 35 people. The weather was nice, mostly in the 80s. It was interesting to leave Colorado early morning at 51 degrees and that afternoon arrive in Las Vegas at 114 degrees. Yikes! People go to Las Vegas on purpose at this time of year, and then they go outside in that heat. Not for me!

Before I left I sewed a shirt for my nephew, an apron for my niece and some bags to share.
 I'm planning two baby quilts. The one with the Minkee on the back is for my niece whose baby is due in September and another for my niece-in-law whose son (after three daughters--daddy is thrilled) is due in November.   I got the top done and it is based on ,A Walk in the Park (it's free but you might have to register to get it.) It's going to have a border with white and one of the colors from the quilt, probably the blue.
I've linked to Judy's blog.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Done Enough!

This is the kitchen table. Do you notice what's on it? NOTHING! I have dealt with all the fabric and stuff that was on it. I must admit a lot of it was just stuffed on the bookshelves, but I'll get to them later.

I have to tell you, this was a long process. I started on the 9th, and 10 days later I'm done with the fabric portion. I still have lots of organizing and deciding to do, but I need to get some sewing done so I feel like I actually accomplished something. I guess it's my reward.

This is what the room looks like now.
The fabric closet. I actually have put a few more things in the lowest cubes, but only a few.
Just to the right of the fabric closet.  The pictures move around the room to the right.
Still unorganized, but I can do that relatively easily (I hope.)

My view when I sit at the sewing machine.
The Bailey's quilter. I butted it up against my cutting table so I have room for the quilt, and room behind to sit.
The design wall, and the small brown table thing is my treadle machine. 
And the fabric closet, with the new curtains closed.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Almost There, and Some Advice

Here is the fabric closet now. I took this last night, then found more fabric (surprise) that needed to be wound into mini-bolts. I have to let you know, I have bought and lost solid black fabric a couple of times, but good news, now it's found!. One piece was about 8 yards (what for you ask, I have no idea!) The last one I found was only about 3 yards. I have plenty of black fabric. Good thing I like to use it.

And now for some advice. The last time I  organized I put things away so that they would be organized. The little set of drawers you see has a sister; both of them filled with delightful items I would keep together to work on any day now. I then put the two of them very safely in the closet in their own little space on the floor in the corner.

Yesterday, they were brought back into the light. I found the wonderful treasures I had stored. I guess I wanted a time capsule, not an easily accessible storage place. So my advice, put things where you can get to them easily and where you can see them, unless of course you are constructing a time capsule.

I must have been because I also unearthed this kit. I looked at it and couldn't figure out where or when I got it.
Then I looked at the tag. I bought this when I went with my sister to the Sister's Quilt show in, wait for it....2008. So the time capsule worked, it has reminded me of events and wonderful times from long ago!

Update: I found this. The closet just outside my sewing room. I knew there was fabric in it, I'm the one who put it there. However I think my mind has been ignoring it.

The large bin toward the top has fleece for backings, so that one goes back. The small one on top is completed quilts, so they get moved. The bottom one has clothing fabric and patterns. You'll be surprised to hear that I have aged it long enough, and it is ready to be shared (with a charity shop), at least most of it.

I think I should stop looking. I'm tired of fabric! I don't want to organize anymore. I want to quilt.

Oh one more! These blocks were in one of the time capsules drawers. I remember that I didn't like them when I finished them. Now they're OK, I guess absence does make the heart grow fonder. I have fleece for the backing, so quick baby quilt. You'll be surprised to know there are babies going to be born in my world.

Onward and upward. Back to work.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Progress: I think

How can there still be this much stuff left to go through? It's mostly fabric but other miscellaneous stuff that was in the top part of the closet was also piled on the table

 I've put this much fabric away! Is it multiplying? I guess I've done a few other things today. I did do the laundry and put it away. I went through my clothes (closet and drawers) and discarded and organized and donated. I donated a chair, donated a cupboard that was in my room, went through all the patterns I had and discarded what I didn't love any more. Shopped for hardware then bolted the bookcases together.

OK, I did more that I realized. I feel a bit better now.

The bookcases have most of the stuff on them that is going to go, at least from the shelves I took down, the cupboard I donated and the stuff that didn't belong in the fabric closet. The problem is, there is no order, not even a little, not yet. I'm trying not to look at it when I walk in the room, because it is feeling a bit overwhelming. I have to decide where everything is going to go, and then put it there.

More of the cutting table is visible as well. I've put some things away, and gotten rid of some things.

There is also more space to walk around in the living room. The chair that got donated had a whole pile of sewing stuff on it that got dealt with before I donated it.

OK, whew. I feel MUCH better. Thanks for listening!


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